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ACCC Warns Against Tech Dating Scams

The ACCC is advising Australians to not “swipe right on a scammer” this Valentine’s Day, with total losses notching over as more $24.6 million – a 20 per cent increase from 2017.

Scamwatch received nearly 4000 reports of dating and romance scams in 2018.

“Scammers tend to go where people are, and in the dating world that increasingly means on social media and dating apps,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

According to the report, women are four more times as likely to report losing money to a romance scam, reporting a total financial loss of almost $20 million, whereas men reported a total loss of almost $5 million.

However, whether men were equally affected but failed to report their losses is unclear.

Reportedly, social media scams, where the victim and scammer met on an app, have increased more than 300 per cent in the last two years.

Most of the reported scams occur on the dating app Tinder, and messaging apps Facebook Messenger and Viber.

The typical scam begins by building trust with the victim then sharing heart-wrenching stories of needing money for costs relating to illness, injury, legal costs, business expenses, or travel.

According to Scamwatch’s report, the scam can continue for years exploiting the victim’s goodwill.

Individuals aged 45 to 64 were the most affected by romance scams.

Potential victims are advised to avoid strangers that reach out over social media who appear “too good to be true” and to not give them money if they’ve never met in person and the relationship only exists in cyberspace.

“You may think you love them and want to help, but they’ll just break your heart, and deplete your bank account,” Ms Rickard said.

Concerned individuals are advised to check out Scamwatch.gov.au, read more here.

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